Ross Wilkers

COMPANIES

Inside CSRA's FEMA response strategy

The Federal Emergency Management Agency had several immediate needs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall on the Gulf Coast and filled one for call center help quickly.

On the night of Sept. 4, FEMA awarded a potential $95 million task order to CSRA for call center services out of its Bossier City, La.-based technology service center. FEMA had only kicked off the acquisition process just days before the award, Sally Sullivan, CSRA’s executive vice president for homeland security told Washington Technology.

FEMA issued the request for proposals at midnight between Aug. 30 and Aug. 31 with proposals then due at 7 a.m. Eastern, Sullivan said.

“By Wednesday (Sept. 6), we had our doors open across 10 centers and we were taking in applicants and getting them fingerprinted,” she said. “We had to throw up a network… and within a couple days we had our whole network and automated call center set up ready to connect to FEMA.”

That is where the work began for CSRA, which is working to hire up to 1,500 call agents for positions in Bossier City, Barbourville, Ky. and the company’s headquarters in Falls Church, Va.

Job fairs are ongoing and the company had 3,100 people in the doors as potential applicants within five days, Sullivan said. CSRA wants a large portion of the temporary agents fluent in both English and Spanish, she said.

The calls the agents receive from those evacuated and others affected are varied and can take up to one hour at a time to find resources for temporary assistance on items such as food and lodging, according to Sullivan.

“These are business process outscourcing types of jobs and we need people who can think on their feet,” Sullivan said. “As soon as they cleared their background check they began about 10 hours of training on how to use the technology, answer calls, do the ingest of information and route them to other sources of support.”

Terms of the task order itself also indicate the fluid nature of both the work and the situation it is taking place in. The award includes a 30-day, $25 million base period followed by up to six two-week option periods worth $70 million total.

FEMA awarded the order for post-Harvey support against the General Services Administration’s 10-year, $2.5 billion USA Contact Center contract vehicle awarded in 2008 to nine companies.

“When you’re the holder of this contract you are committing that you’re engineered to spin up support immediately overnight,” Sullivan said.

The agency has already signaled it will need additional surge support for its response to Hurricane Irma’s landfall in Florida over the weekend of Sept 9-10, Sullivan added.

CSRA inherited its prime position on USA Contact Center from the former Computer Sciences Corp. U.S. public sector business that merged with SRA International two years ago to create CSRA.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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